“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mark 7:6-7 ESV)

I’m a nurse practitioner, so hygiene is important to me. I understand how important washing our hands is to our health. That is probably why this passage in Mark 7 intrigues me so much. God commanded the Jews to wash their hands before they ate because it kept them from getting sick. But do you see how He answers the Pharisees in verses 7-13? He reprimands them for having hearts that are not in the right place! The condition of the Pharisees’ souls was far more important to Christ than whether they got an illness because they ate with dirty hands. That really speaks to me!

Our friends, Justin and Ashley, are missionaries. They run a non-profit organization called Sparrow Missions. I pray I never forget what Justin told me on a trip to Honduras. He said, “We (speaking of he and his wife) are not a bank. We have something far more important to give than money.”Christ had something far more important to give to these people than physical health. He was interested in the eternal condition of their souls. Jesus wanted to know if they were followers of Christ, or of the law. The law couldn’t save them, but Christ could (Hebrews 10:4)! The same is true for us. The law will never save us, but Christ can!

We have such an important message to share with a lost world! Christ died for our sins. He is far more concerned about the condition of your heart than the car you drive, the job you have, or how spiritual you may appear. What is the condition of your heart today?


We love you because you first loved us. Please help us share that love with others. Show us where we are honoring you with our lips, but not with our hearts.

Further reading: 1 Samuel 15:22; 1 Sam 16:7; James 2: 10


Sessions 5, 6, & 7

I can’t say anything but, “Sorry this has taken me so long”. Here are the answers for session five:

What; good; is; it; good; life

1. Saves; ourselves; willing; to; yield

2. Track; yielding; yielded; up; to; send; forth; above; fear; below

3. Full; mercy; depression; responsibility; good; day; religious; cover; failure; act

4. Full; good; fruit; an; end; a; blessing; germ; next; seed


Here are the answers for session six:

Traded; joys; highs; world; decides; take; seriously; means; nothing; arrogant; our; sin; ridiculing; hilarious; cynicism; cynical

1. Changing; lives

2. People; thing; world

3.  Study; Scripture; ravenous

4. Barriers; breaking; down

5. Kick; tail


Here are the answers for session seven:

Between; rains

1. Beauty; process

2. Acknowledge; faithfulness; early; later; rains; faithfulness; Lord

3. Caustic; undercurrent; unexpressed; smothered; groan; sigh

4. Ignite; stories; others; model; count; blessed; who; have; endured

5. Much; at; stake; just; like; us; feeling; passion; nature


Joy to you this week! You are doing so great, hang in there!


Session Four

Chairein! I’m so happy to be writing this blog! I must apologize it’s taken me so long to get to this. I hope you are enjoying your study in James. I know I am.

Here are the answers to Session Four:

Part one: looks intently; stoop down; looking; bending over; does not become

Part two: our glorious Lord Jesus Christ; our glory; divine glory; embodiment; like; Shekinah; glory; Torah; Shekinah rests; our glory; worship; social status; footstool

Concluding thought: favoritism; mix

Enjoy this beautiful sunshine. God’s joy on you today!

Session Three

Chairein! I’m so glad you are sticking with this study. I’m really enjoying it and I hope you are too! Here are the answers to this week’s video session, just in case you missed it:

Intro: Joy; anguish; mental distress; pain; anxiety; suffering; dread; choke; compress; squeeze

1. Anguish; coexist

2. Anguish; trade places; instead; ashes

3. Morph; joy; convert; change

4. Mind; labor; with childbirth

5. Meant; lead; birth

I really loved when Beth said, “If you will trust God with your anguish; it will birth back to you something precious. You did not know you were in labor.”

If you are struggling with something, please find comfort in the fact that God is trying to make you complete (James 2:4). God bless you!

Session Two

What a great lesson about James 1:1. If you weren’t able to come this week, here are the answers to the session two video:

1. Doesn’t say; does; slave

2. Tribes scattered; diaspora; James; Jacob; Jacobus; ya’aqov; Jewish Christian; Christian Jew; divorced; Jesus knew

3. First book; written

4. Last; admitted; rule; standard

5. Teaching

6. Live it

7. Joy; you

I forgot to tell you all our memory verse for this week. If you recall, I encouraged all of us to memorize one scripture a week. This week’s pick is James 1:12:

Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward.” (CEB)

Chairein, beloved, chairein!

Week One: Digging Deeper

I’m currently studying Hannah and I’ve been interested in knowing more about the Nazarite vow. When Melissa wrote an article about it, I praised God for giving me the wisdom I’d asked for (James 1:5)! Before I lose you to boredom, let me try to bring this full circle. What are we currently observing at Hope Community Church? Lent, correct! That’s 3 points for you. J The Nazarite vow was taken to show others that you were separated or consecrated to God. Sounds a lot like what we do during lent, doesn’t it? As we remember the 40 days Christ spent in the dessert prior to His public ministry, we do something, or give something up, to keep our focus on Jesus’ sacrifice. We’re taking a vow that should help make us “holy”, or more like Christ. I really liked how it was said during Sunday’s sermon- we are asking God to shine a light on the dark places in our hearts.

Generally, the Nazarite vow was taken for a period of time. See Numbers 6:1-21 for the complete set of rules and regulations to be observed by a Nazarite. But, the two most famous Nazarites in the Bible were to take the vow for life. Do you know who they are? Samson and Samuel. 50 points if you got both of those. J You can read more about the life of Samson in Judges 13:2-7. What did Samson gain by taking this vow? The vow Hannah made is spelled out in 1 Samuel 1:11. What did Samuel gain from taking this vow? These are just two of the places in the Bible that we see how obedience pays off, and how disobedience can bring great harm. I’m confident that your obedience to God’s calling for a change during lent, or anytime, will reap great rewards. Don’t give up, dear one, it’s all worth it!

Dear Lord,

Please shine Your light into the dark places in our hearts. We want to be more like Jesus. We want to observe lent in a way that honors You. Use us to make Your kingdom come.


Answers to above questions:

  1. Samson was really strong. His disobedience eventually caused his death, but his strength allowed him to kill a lot of Philistines.
  2. Samuel was a great judge and was used to anoint both Saul and David to the throne. Eli’s disobedience to God’s laws caused his death.

It was so great to see all of you this week! If you missed it, don’t worry! Please join us next time, because I know you will still get a ton out of this study. Here are the answers for session one:

“Then he appeared to James” (1 Cor. 15:7)

  1. Jesus appeared; needed; out of; mind
  2. Scene; unbeliever
  3. Restructures; family; natural (family); disciples; family; spiritual; resurrected
  4. Grace; James; James; empty; useless; hollow
  5. Resurrection; tomb; empty

If you aren’t familiar with the 5 levels of study available to you, please read pages 8-10 of your workbook. If you are interested in memorizing the book of James, I can show you a 10 minute tutorial about memorizing large portions of scripture.

For those of us who haven’t committed to memorizing the book of James, I am encouraging you to memorize at least one scripture verse a week. I will pick out a verse each week, but please memorize the scripture that God lays on your heart. He knows what you need to cling to far better than I do! The real key here is just hiding His word in our hearts, so we can draw upon it in times of blessing and need. This week, we are focusing on Galations 2:10:

“Only they (James, Peter, and John) asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

You rock, dear sister in Christ. Don’t forget that! Many blessings this week.